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My Dad, and his Jeep Accessories

Here is a bit of trivia for you; do you know where the jeep got its name from? A character from the old Popeye cartoons was named Eugene the Jeep. How in the world anyone saw a connection between a weird dog-like creature and a new vehicle for the US Army, I will never know. And, along with that cheap workhorse of the service came a number of economical jeep accessories.

The jeep itself was a very basic, cheap vehicle. A small, powerful engine, simple steering and controls, and seating for two. Behind them was a small flat area ringed with a low ridge. Supplies could be tied there, men could squat down and ride, and equipment could be mounted there. Among the chief jeep accessories were the trailer and a canvas cover. When used out in the heat of Africa, that cover was considered the best of the jeep accessories.

Years ago, there was a television show called: The Rat Patrol, which showed four men using two jeeps, with some great jeep accessories, fighting the war. My Dad and I loved that show; and he even said that it wasn't that far from the truth. He had served in North Africa, and had seen what jeeps could do when outfitted with the right jeep accessories. In this case, he was talking about thirty caliber machine gun mounted on the back platform! Not the sort of jeep accessories you would get these days.

One day, he was glad that the jeep accessories included a first aid kit. As a Warrant Officer, he was given a driver, but he liked to drive. So, the young sergeant usually rode. Well, this time, a new young lieutenant was in the jeep; a stickler for regulations. So, the sergeant had to drive. The lieutenant sat in the back, cleaning his pistol. He had it aimed right at the back of the driver's seat. Can you see where this is going? Yeah, they hit a bump, he pulled the trigger, and the sergeant got shot - right in the butt! He stood up in the seat, his foot hit the gas pedal, and they zipped off down the road. My Dad grabbed the wheel as the sergeant fell over backwards on top of the lieutenant. Keeping them on the dirt road, he turned off the engine, and they coasted to a stop. Now was the time to pull out those jeep accessories: the first aid kit, and the stretcher strapped to the back. The Sergeant was none to happy, of course, but he let my Dad dress the wound, and then he drove them off to the field hospital. Not the best way to earn a Purple Heart Medal, but the sergeant was just glad they'd had those jeep accessories along. Oh, and after that, the lieutenant left his sidearm in its holster - and he drove!

After the war, the first car my Dad bought was an old Army surplus jeep. No, he didn't get one with the machine gun accessory! Instead, he looked around for some other jeep accessories that he knew would come in handy: the cover and the trailer. As he and my Mom were just starting out, a simple, cheap vehicle like a jeep was perfect, and the jeep accessories made things so much easier. The trailed could hold plenty of stuff, for when they were moving, and the cover kept the cold New England wind out.

Over time, as the family grew, the jeep and the jeep accessories began to wear out. The boys (my older brothers, not me!) punched holes in the canvas jeep cover, and the trailer got rusty from the New England snow and rain. Eventually, the jeep wasn't big enough for the family, and the jeep accessories were worn out. Like other army surplus, they were consigned to history, having done their duty.

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